I Have Nothing To Prove (Either)

The following thoughts seem to be bubbling to the surface of my mind tonight like the little spring on the West end of my dad’s timber…..

Thursday morning on the way to work, I spotted a young Amish man three stories up, installing two by four’s on a steep house roof.  Parked on the side street sat their work trailer loaded with metal.  I could tell by where he was on the roof, he must have started working at least an hour and one half, possibly two hours before.

I also noticed there was no scaffolding  at the bottom of the roof, just an extension ladder on one corner .  That concerned me for several reasons,  mostly because of safety.

amish roofers 2

(It’s also highly illegal to be that high off the ground without some kind of safety measures in place, but that’s another topic for another day)

I described this scenario to another carpenter Saturday night at our grandson’s birthday party.  We talked about the long hours and unsafe working conditions the Amish roofing crews in our area practice.  (It makes me look slow and lazy in comparison)

“I don’t care anymore.  He said.   I have nothing to prove.  I used to work all day, then turn around and work on something else after I got off work….but not any more.  Like I said, I have nothing to prove.”

That makes me feel good hearing you say that,” I told him!

My family is not Amish per say, but I am  a 4th generation German immigrant.  My Great Grandfather, Grandfather and father also farmed, spoke low German and worked from sun up till sun down.

I don’t “sprekenze Deutsche” but but growing up, I did tend a small  dairy herd.  When I turned 14 I  started working on my dad’s construction crew.   My day started at 5:30, milked 18 to 20 cows, then worked from 7 till 5:30 pouring concrete, go home, milk again, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.   In all of my years growing up, I remember just one 2 day vacation to the Wisconsin Dells.

Hard to find someone to cover for you when you are a dairy farmer.

When I graduated high school I packed my bags and moved out a month later.

It took me almost 10 years after that before I was able to finally stick a cork in the voice in my head that accused me of being lazy when I tried to take a nap on a Sunday Afternoon….

So driving by  the job site and observing those young Amish men putting in long days like that stirred up two distinct thoughts…

#1.  I felt sorry for them….especially the young ones.  They don’t know any different, and unfortunately for them, it would be 100 times harder to break away than it was for me.

#2.  Secondly, it made me thankful.  Thankful that I have been set free from that driven lifestyle.

“It is vain that you rise up early, and go late to bed, eating the bread of anxious toil….for the Lord gives to his beloved rest (or he gives to his beloved, even while they rest”)

(It’s one of my favorite Psalms…I wrote it down on an index card and repeated it every time I started to feel guilty about not working hard enough back in the day.)

You don’t have to be Amish to be driven.

How about you?  Have you figured out that magical blend of  work and rest, work and leisure, Work and family?

What does the word leisure  conjure up when you hear it?

How do you recharge your batteries emotionally and every which way?

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18 thoughts on “I Have Nothing To Prove (Either)

    • Made me smile when I read your comment. Make sure you take a picture if you do 😉 I wonder if part of it is they push you so hard those years of medical school, that it becomes ingrained…you may have to relearn how to relax…quick question…were you as focused and driven before college? just curious.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. it has taken me years to lean into my Sundays but now I am an expert at it 🙂 Saturday I am a warrior, getting things done. Sunday is calm, quiet, reflective and peaceful. It is well within my soul, MJ

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Have you figured out that magical blend of work and rest, work and leisure, Work and family?”

    Short answer – No.
    Either I am pushing too hard, then feeling burned out. Or I am ‘relaxing too much’ and feeling annoyed with myself for being lazy.

    I can’t seem to find my way to the middle ground.

    Liked by 1 person

    • it will happen. (you figuring it out) I appreciate your candor! For me, it didn’t happen until some of the financial stress lifted just a little. knowing what little I know about your and Carl’s choices in regard to where you work, where you choose to live, etc. I think you guys are on the right path. 😉 DM

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      • DM, our modest “fixer-upper” is bordering on “money-pit”. And unfortunately, neither of us has much confidence in practical skills of home repair (Carl does some). These things can drag you down mentally for sure. (Reality is not as bad as I am sounding right now, it’s just my mood at the moment.) But I just read Bill’s Practicing Resurrection blog https://practicingresurrection.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/pipe-dream/ mission statement, which has inspired me.

        Your post was a good reminder for me to stay balanced. Thank you DM

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Well I have not mastered the art of napping, but I do believe after chasing an impossible dream in Africa I came to realize life is too short to let striving kill you. I’m about to embark on my cross country road trip to explore the west and I have a new work plan coming together. Work 13 weeks, take 4 weeks off. We’ll see if the plan is in sync with the Lord’s plan. I hope it is. A girl’s gotta dream. 😊

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  4. I’ve dallied responding to this, because I couldn’t believe the answer I came up with. That is: for me, there’s no difference between work and rest. Granted, there are times when weather-complicated deadlines have to be met, and times when it’s too hot to be outdoors, and I go grocery shopping or put in some computer hours, but I mostly don’t think of my life in categories. I simply do what I do, and then I do the next thing.

    One thing did cross my mind. “Anxious toil” is NOT equivalent to work-in-general. I gave up anxious toil years ago. Now, I spend most of my life working, because I work at my writing, too — but none of it qualifies as anxious toil.

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    • totally agree w/ you about the anxious toil clarification. I love my job and it is very physical most days…anxious toil to me is that sense of being driven, never enough hours in the day, can’t relax, more more more/ driven driven driven..no thank you. life is too short.

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  5. Wow. I don’t think I’d realized you’d had that rigorous a schedule while growing up. Your work hours sound like my husband’s work hours as a young man– except in his case it was chase the family goat/sheep herd from sun-up, with more hours of manual-labor-for-hire built in. It took him years to learn to relax, too…he has gotten especially good at napping when he can 😉 . I wonder how much the hard-driving work ethic is a by-product of an agrarian lifestyle…except I imagine before we got so good at “mastering” nature with electricity and gas motors, there were probably more built-in breaks–a terrible winter might leave one snowed in so tending to animals and fires would still be necessary, but going to other work/school/leaving home would otherwise be an impossibility and one would almost have to sit tight and nap a little!
    While I wouldn’t advocate all-work, no-play, for anyone, I DO wonder if it instills a tremendous endurance in the people who live it out as kids. I had the sense, watching you, DM, that you could keep going and going– and that’s often how my husband seems! It might not have been good for him or you to work all the time as young people, but I bet it DID let you know, and quite young, just how incredibly capable you both could be, and how much was POSSIBLE to get done!

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    • Reading your comment reminded me of something. On the old John Deere tractor dad had on the 2 row corn picker, there was a low gear called “creeper low” Basically, when the corn was down and tangled on the ground, you sometimes had to downshift into “creeper low”…it didn’t move very fast but it kept moving. Period. Sometimes, (like that hot day at work last Friday) I mentally have to downshift into “creeper low”… just keep plodding along until you are done with the task. Sometimes, there is no other option. And sooner or later, you do reach the end of the row.

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      • I love the image that “creeper low” brings to mind when I apply it to humans. That is precisely what I remember, especially, of parts of being a mom of young kids in a crazy multi-family household…times, bent over a sink full of dishes at 11pm or a floor covered in throw-up at 2 am when my eyes literally would not stay open and I would think “nose to the grindstone, nose to the grindstone”: creeper low. I’m still learning it though…it’s taken me into my forties to discover what true persistence is and I feel I still have a lot to prove to myself in that regard…just watching my husband (and people like you going out into 100 degree heat to work on a ROOF!– or my best friend running marathons) is a lesson in sticking to it…

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  6. P.S. In answer to your question– I think the place I remember learning about balance was in a job working for a huge construction management company. The company I worked for was building a new wing– and renovating– a major New York hospital, one of the biggest/best in the country. I was just an administrative worker, but my work-load seemed to rise and fall with the pacing of the actual work on the job. I worked in a really nutty, cuss-word filled environment, full of true New York characters, and it could get tense and loud at times, and definitely fast-paced. We had times when we would be processing change-orders– kind of a big deal, because they were legal documents often noting changes to master plumbing and electrical contracts, for amounts ranging from $10,000 up to half-a-million– and they would be coming fast and furious, all needing to be perfect, signed by all these head honchos, registered, etc. No time for lunch, no time to go to the bathroom, a long, crazed day….and I remember eating sauteed kale leaves and chunks of tofu at my desk (I was eating weirdly, but very healthily at the time, it was the “I-can-stop-in-Chinatown-on-my-way-home-and-pick-up-incredibly-cheap-kale-and -tofu-and-saute-it-all-with-some-weird-Mongolian-fire-oil-I-also-picked-up”diet, everyday!), and thinking, “this is almost unsustainable!”– and then the job slowed drastically… more planning/talking/meetings instead of work-crews all the time, people taking vacations…and I thought, “huh!” It was weird, in contrast to the weeks before. And after I found myself in that cycle again, for another round, I started to realize that was how it went. At least at that job– just crazy driven hard work– and then real lulls. I learned to take advantage of the lulls…not just take lunch away from my desk, but sometimes take extra long lunches. Be comfortable with doing some mildly-forbidden personal stuff at my desk during lulls…because I knew I would have no choice but to completely ignore even the call of nature when the craziness hit again!
    Anyway, I think that set a pattern I may have stuck with at times since then. When the rest period comes, I take it. I exploit it, even, sometimes. And when the craziness kicks in, because I choose it or because it chooses me, then I can go all out more easily.

    I’m not sure that’s true balance– I think I am learning that it’s a young-person’s kind of balance and I am becoming middle-aged and I can’t do marathons alternating with lazing, I need to do 5ks alternating with some walking and napping ;-). But I think the principle, for me, still holds: assume that life will bring you enough, and TOO MUCH, at times, and be ready to PUSH; and assume you have finite energy and conserve your energy/play/rest in between.

    Now that I finish writing my usual book in response to one of your blogs, I must say, having visited you, DM (which truly was a privilege), I was struck that you and MM seemed to have really hit some sweet spot in terms of living well, pacing included. It seemed to me that you both knew yourselves–and what you liked and needed–and were trying to be true to some inner and outer reflections of what was right and necessary for yourselves. The joy and peace you two live in was palpable (I am sure it’s not ALWAYS that way, no one’s life is, but it still felt as if you two were doing it “right!”)

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    • You are correct…it is not always that way around here…but both of us have begun to pay more attention to the whole area of boundaries, and pacing ourselves…I find it interesting you were able to pick up on that, the short time you were here. 🙂

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